It was ten years ago today that I nervously tiptoed my way into these dangerous waters. My motivation for doing was partly to keep my creative juices flowing after finding myself at a bit of a loose end at work thanks to some unanticipated staffing changes but mainly as it was something that was of an increasing appeal.
A few months earlier, my other half had given me a USB Turntable for my birthday as I was keen to put a lot of songs that I only had on vinyl into a digital format for transferring onto a new I-pod. It was while browsing the internet looking for tips on how to best do this in terms of software programmes etc that I realised there was a small band of folk with similar musical tastes and interests who were populating small corners of cyberspace with their views and opinions, seeking out responses and debate via the comments sections to postings on their blogs. I tentatively offered some of my own views and was pleasantly surprised that nobody mocked me or called me out as a charlatan. I began to make requests for specific songs and was delighted when folk living in Canada, France, the USA and nearer to home in Scotland let me hear something again for the first time in decades.
It is really hard to imagine just how little of the old indie/new wave/ post punk music from the 70s, 80s and 90s was out there back in 2006 given the massive growth in popularity there has been this past decade. You Tube was a little over a year old and folk were to still to really harness its ability in terms of uploading old footage for all to enjoy. Spotify was still just an idea forming in someone’s head. Record companies had little interest in dealing with back catalogues unless it was a dead superstar. CD was still king with the low manufacturing costs keeping the gravy train smoothly on the tracks. All the good stuff however, seemed to be long out of print and so it fell upon this enthusiastic group of like-minded amateurs to keep certain flames burning.
I tried a few layouts, considered a few alternatives for the name of the blog and thought about giving myself a name to hide behind – The Ghost Of Troubled Joe was only ditched at the last second in favour of using my initials. Having decided that what I was going to do was in the main taking songs on 7” and 12” plastic and featuring them in what was a technically illegal digital format, I felt The Vinyl Villain was a clever and astute name for the blog. Besides, it kind of gave me a superhero alter-ego as I styled myself as ‘JC aka The Vinyl Villain.’
My first posting was on James. It was all about a long-deleted b-side called Fire Away that I thought was worth letting folk hear again. Two days later I featured Lloyd Cole with a then rare and hard-to-find remix of Butterfly, a flop single from 1992. Then I went a bit more obscure the next day with some stuff on a long-forgotten band from Edinburgh called Hey! Elastica.
Positive comments and e-mails began to trickle in and so I kept going. I never considered I’d still be doing it ten years on.
Nor did I imagine that I would make so many great friends through blogging, a fair number of whom I’ve been lucky to meet but the vast majority have been the 21st Century equivalent of pen-pals. Being a blogger has enabled me to meet some of my all-time musical heroes (and in certain cases befriend them) and indirectly led me to DJ again after many years away. It also created a situation where I would do things I could only previously daydream about – I’ve promoted gigs, I’ve been a semi-roadie, I’ve sold stuff at merchandise stalls and I’ve been briefly profiled in newspapers and magazines. I’ve been invited to come to a recording studio and be among the first to hear a brand new recording from one of my favourite bands and I’ve had my real name appear in the list of thanks on new releases. I still can’t get over that Laurence Bell of Domino Records contacted me for some thoughts and advice in advance of his label issuing the Orange Juice box set and then as thank you listing me in the credits… that will always remain beyond belief.
I’ve clearly had a whale of a time never once regretting my decision to get involved and I’ve been lucky with so much that has happened. But above all else, I am incredibly proud of the fact that I’ve been able to attract many hundreds of guest contributions over the years and in doing so have greatly expanded my knowledge and musical tastes.
Of course it’s not all been plain sailing. A few initial bumps were smoothed out by some of my oldest blogging comrades which is why it seems so apt that this week, while I’m on holiday in Toronto, that the blog is featuring a series of repeat guest offerings from ctel without whom I’d most likely quit at some point. I owe him so much and again want to publicly say a big thank you.
The Vinyl Villain was hosted by blogger.com between 29 September 2006 and 24 July 2013 when it was taken down by the host for what was alleged to be continued violations of copyright policy. They had a point but the method used in which so many millions of words were wiped without giving me a chance to do some sort of back-up was upsetting and caused a lot of grief and anger. My indignation was shared by many others and the many messages of support made me determined to bounce back quickly. I ended up doing so did so the same day, using wordpress, and re-naming it The (New) Vinyl Villain. It took a few weeks but the new place soon got up to the standards of the old place and indeed nowadays I feel it is a big improvement, thanks in the main to the quality of the guest postings.
Between the two blogs, there have been something in the region of 3,700 separate posts and what will be something in the region of 15,000 comments. That’s an awful lot of words……thankfully some of them have made some sense.
There’s not too many of the original bloggers from ten years ago still going today which is perfectly understandable given that it is very difficult to find different things to say all the time; besides, all of our personal circumstances have changed while those who were driven by the desire only to share music can point to how much easier it is to do so in 2016 compared to 2006….and much of it is legal.
In their places have come some very talented and skilled new bloggers, a small number of whom I very heartily recommend with a listing to the right hand side of my own place. Sometimes I find it difficult to read what these folk are writing, partly because so many of them do it in a way that makes me think they should be getting paid for it, but also because I sometimes read their word and realise that my own emerging thoughts for a future post just been blown out the water!!
I know that I won’t be doing this forever. To be honest, five years ago I didn’t imagine seeing out another half-decade, so I’ll make no predictions about what the future holds. But as long as I wake up of a morning and see that someone out there is getting a degree of enjoyment out of what appears here, and as long as I’m able to crochet a few clichés together in a way that makes some sort of sense, well you can bet that some sort of tune and some sort of opinion or information will appear on a daily basis.
For now, here’s some tunes:-
mp3 : Kingmaker – 10 Years Asleep
mp3 : Wild Billy Childish & The Musicians Of The British Empire – Birthday Boy
mp3 : James – Fire Away (12″ vinyl)
mp3 : Lloyd Cole – Butterfly (the Planet Ann Charlotte Mix)
mp3 : The Fall – Lost In Music